- Financial services firms have some unique requirements that are only satisfied with Customer Relationship Management software built for their industry.
- The best CRM software for financial advisors at banks, insurance agencies and financial services firms accommodates industry specific requirements such as client onboarding, KYC, FORM account management, guided selling, strategic account management, intelligent cross-sell, UHNW concierge programs and in-system regulatory enforcement.
- The best CRM software for financial advisors as measured by market share, market growth and industry fit are Salesforce Financial Services Cloud, Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services and Pega.
In the prior post I shared the top industry specific capabilities offered by the best CRM software for financial advisors. This post will deliver comparison information among the top three Customer Relationship Management systems for financial institutions.
I've been comparing and implementing CRM software at banks, insurance agencies and financial services firms for almost three decades and the number one question I get is, "What is the best CRM software for financial advisors?"
The easy answer is to say, well, that depends. So, I'll refrain from saying the easy answer. I will instead suggest to answer the question you start by considering market share, market growth and the industry specific requirements that make CRM software for financial advisors different than generic or industry agnostic software.
Market Share Leadership
I'll start with market share. The Big 4 applications across all industries are Salesforce, SAP, Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics 365.
Only two of the big 4 are leaders in this industry. That's in large part because Salesforce and Microsoft have verticalized their applications to accommodate the most important industry capabilities. That includes things like simple and efficient client on-boarding, KYC automation, client householding, claims management and intelligent up-sell, cross-sell or bundles of financial products.
Their industry fit delivers the specific capabilities needed by bankers, financial planners and wealth management advisors. It also reduces the need for software customization and prolonged training.
The Top 3 CRM Software for Financial Advisors
Each of the top CRM software for financial advisors has different strengths, weaknesses and value propositions, discussed below.
Salesforce Financial Services Cloud
Salesforce is the market share leader – overall and in the financial services industry. The company pioneered cloud delivery, social capabilities and is a relentless innovator. That innovation has delivered advanced capabilities, digital commerce, Einstein AI, a broad platform, a deep AppExchange ecosystem and an industry specific financial services cloud application.
Salesforce Financial Services Cloud strengths include the following:
- According to the Salesforce Connected Investor report, only 37 percent of investment clients say their finance advisors are aware of their life goals. That's in large part because most advisors don't have a single, central location to view holistic client relationships. Salesforce solves this perennial challenge with a 360-degree customer view that includes household relationships.
- That customer data can also be harvested to deliver differentiated customer experiences across channels.
- Financial Services Cloud with Salesforce Shield helps financial services firms comply with industry regulations, such as the U.S. Department of Labor's Fiduciary Rule, which requires advisors and insurance agents make investment recommendations in the best interests of their clients.
- This solution excels in workflow automation. The Flow Builder app permits companies to sequence steps or string together multiple tasks and automate simple or sophisticated processes. It's a good for identifying triggering events that initiate activities, update fields, require approval processing or send messages. It's very effective in automating processes such as new client onboarding or new account openings.
- Salesforce Einstein with AI embedded directly into the application delivers intelligent next best offer, next best action and cross-sell recommendations.
- System integration is critical at financial firms and the company's MuleSoft platform is a category leader. I've used the MuleSoft integration platform to easily create interfaces with internal core processing systems such as Alltel, COCC, Fiserv, Jack Henry, Kirchman, Metavante and OSI. I've also used MuleSoft to create integrations with popular banking, credit card and investment systems such as FDR, PrimeVest and SunGard.
- One area where Salesforce lacks is Strategic Account Management. However, there are AppExchange third party applications to fill this void.
Consider Salesforce if you intend to transform your financial institution. However, acquiring the market share leader may come with a price premium. Prices most often range from $150 to $450 per user per month. If you leverage this application for digital or business transformation your investment will pay big dividends. But if your goals are less ambitious, your growth path is more incremental or you do not use this applications advanced capabilities, you may increase investment and total cost of ownership without the corresponding payback.
Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services
This vertical solution is built on top of the Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (CE) platform. It's strengths include the following:
- Native integration with Office and Outlook. Financial advisors start their day in Outlook and spend their day in Microsoft Office apps. The Dynamics CRM application, called Customer Engagement (CE), offers seamless integration between the customer management system and these ubiquitous programs. In fact, Microsoft replicates the application within Outlook so that financial planners, insurance agents and wealth management advisors can perform their customer facing activities without leaving Outlook. I've implemented this solution many times and this is often the most appreciated benefit by users.
- SharePoint integration is another plus. SharePoint is the most common Content Management System among financial institutions and the CE integration to SharePoint makes it easy to manage and retrieve client documents.
- Dynamics 365 CE is a cloud native, browser-based application that aids flexible configuration. Other competing applications also permit extensible configurations, but many times you are unable to change them once in a production environment. Microsoft's tools and constructs are more flexible and show that becoming standardized does not mean becoming inflexible.
- Microsoft leads many competitors in business process automation. The application offers multiple workflow types (i.e., background or real-time workflows, Dialogues, Actions and Business Process Flows.) The company's Power Automate app is a low code/no code tool that can further extend workflow creation and customization.
- Dynamics CE has tight integration with the Dynamics ERP suites. If used, that displays margin and profit analysis at the product, subproduct, client, household and branch levels.
- Microsoft's Power Platform tools aid application modifications by non-programmers and without over-customizing the system. That means a higher fit application with less software maintenance and much easier upgrades.
- The CE software is a global application that delivers localized feature sets in about 40 regions with 42 languages.
- Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE software is the least cost cloud application among the 3 industry leaders.
- Customer Relationship Management market share growth shows Microsoft aggressively pursuing the number 2 position. Salesforce continues to extend its leadership, but Microsoft has challenged all other competitors for the runner up position.
Consider the Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services if you are small or midsize financial institution that has standardized on Microsoft technologies or desire the least cost solution.
Pegasystems Inc. (Pega) has carved out a unique capability to accelerate customer onboarding and KYC.
The Pega Client Lifecycle Management (CLM) accelerates client on-boarding and automates much of the KYC due diligence and regulatory compliance.
Pega KYC manages compliance objectives with a dynamic rules engine, global master view, intent led-workflows, and pre-configured KYC rules based on variables such as organization, line of business, percentage ownership, client type, geography and risk. This aids compliance for AML/CTF, CRS, FATCA, FINRA, MiFID II, IIROC, EMIR, and Dodd-Frank.
The system also offers connectors to integrate with Avox, Bloomberg, Clarient, kyc.com, and ElectronicID. It has packaged system integration with screening providers such as Thomson Reuters World-Check and Equifax. These integrations can detect global sanctions, politically exposed persons (PEPs) and negative media.
The app can also take the KYC data beyond compliance and apply that information to areas such as credit risk, fraud and financial crime compliance, and customer relationship management. The customer data can be applied with financial services householding data and direct or indirect client relationships.
Beyond KYC, this application offers data management and packaged workflow capabilities for corporate and investment banking, personal banking and wealth management.
Other advanced features include optical character recognition for client documents, information routing using robotic process automation (RPA) and entity relationship models which help financial services firms onboard related customers simultaneously.
At the time of this post, Pega finds itself in significant litigation that may impact the company's viability. Software evaluators should perform additional company scrutiny and assess the company's longevity.
Consider Pega when:
- You want a strong rules-based workflow engine that can be configured using a low code/no-code tools approach.
- You are a large global bank and regulatory compliance is a top goal.
- You have voluminous or complex KYC processes that include multi-product and multi-jurisdictional onboarding across multiple lines of business.